The American military effort in Iraq — which officially ended years ago — has begun once again, with today's bombing of ISIS artillery equipment near the Kurdish capital of Erbil in northern Iraq. President Obama has tried to limit the scope of this mission — saying that airstrikes may be necessary to protect U.S. personnel in Erbil, and invoking the humanitarian imperatives of aiding the 40,000 Yazidi Iraqis who face slaughter at the hands of the Sunni jihadist group ISIS.
Still, as John Cassidy writes at The New Yorker, it's not clear when and how the U.S. can declare this mission completed.
Once the U.S. bombing starts, when will it stop? That is one of the many tough questions that Obama and his colleagues will have to answer. Are the sole goals of the mission to help out the Yazidis and prevent Erbil from falling? Or is this the beginning of a U.S.-led effort not merely to halt the advance of ISIS on its eastern front, in the Kurdish region, but to roll it back everywhere in the country? [The New Yorker]
And even though Obama seems loathe to expand America's mission in Iraq, this week's intervention represents a marked departure from Obama's long-held stance on Iraq.
Already, though, one Rubicon has been crossed. A president who came into office on a promise to pull the United States out of Iraq, and who followed through on his pledge, has just ordered more combat operations in, or over, Iraq. [The New Yorker]
Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy on Monday signed an executive order barring state-funded travel to Indiana over the The Hoosier State's controversial new religious freedom law.
"When new laws turn back the clock on progress, we can't sit idly by," Malloy wrote on Twitter. "We are sending a message that discrimination won't be tolerated."
Seattle and San Francisco have enacted similar bans in response to the law, which critics fear would allow people and businesses to cite religious beliefs to discriminate against gays. While the federal government and nearly 20 other states have similar religious freedom laws, Indiana's goes further by saying people and businesses cannot be "substantially burdened" in the exercise of their religion by the state or other individuals; other such laws specify protection only against state encroachment on religious freedom.
With three Golden Globes, four Emmys, and a Best Actress Oscar under belt, you might think Dame Helen Mirren has reached the pinnacle of her acting career. But in a recent interview with Yahoo! Movies, Mirren set her aims even higher: the eighth installment of the so-dumb-it's-great blockbuster franchise Fast & Furious.
"My great ambition is to be in a Fast & Furious movie," said Mirren. "I so want to be a mad driver in a Fast & Furious movie. My claim to fame is I always do my own driving — I was on Top Gear, and I did [my lap] in a very good time. I keep putting it out there, and they never ask me. I'll be in Fast & Furious 8."
"I love Vin Diesel," Mirren added — hinting, we hope, at the tantalizing possibility of a May-December romance between The Queen and The Bald Guy Who Drives Fast Cars in Fast & Furious 8.
If you live in the San Diego area, the dream of eating a McGriddle sandwich for dinner may soon be a reality.
Starting next month, McDonald's will test all-day breakfast in the San Diego area. The test won't include the full breakfast menu, though, and McDonald's hasn't yet announced which sandwiches will be available after 10:30 a.m.
Previously, McDonald's has said that its restaurants don't have enough kitchen space to serve breakfast items during lunch and dinner hours. But McDonald's executives have now told The Associated Press that customers want "foods personalized to their tastes and schedules."
A McDonald's spokesperson told CNBC that it would be "premature to speculate on any outcomes" from the test, so if you love McDonald's breakfast, keep your fingers crossed.
Two former federal agents, Carl Mark Force IV and Shaun Bridges, are expected to be arrested Monday on charges of stealing money while investigating the black market drug dealing website Silk Road.
Force was an employee of the Drug Enforcement Administration, while Bridges was an employee of the Secret Service. Force has been charged with wire fraud, theft of government property, and money laundering, while Bridges has been charged with wire fraud and money laundering. Both agents were members of a Baltimore-based task force investigating Silk Road, The New York Times reports.
The 50-page complaint alleges that Force "stole and converted to his own personal use a sizable amount of Bitcoins" while conducting an undercover investigation into the site. Force allegedly asked Ross W. Ulbricht, the website's founder, to pay him $250,000 in Bitcoins to keep information from the government. He resigned in May 2014 after serving as a DEA agent for roughly 15 years.
Bridges, meanwhile, resigned on March 18 and had been a Secret Service special agent for six years. Bridges has been accused of stealing more than $800,000 in Bitcoins.
A separate investigation led to charges against Ulbricht, and Silk Road was shut down by authorities in 2013. The Times reports that the website generated more than $213 million in revenue, and Ulbricht apparently took millions of dollars worth of commissions. Ulbricht was convicted on multiple counts last month, including four charges that may carry life sentences.
In February, Shanna Tippen told The Washington Post that she was excited for the 25-cent increase in Arkansas' minimum wage. Now, Tippen has told the Post that she was fired from her job at a Days Inn for participating in the interview.
Tippen told the Post's Chico Harlan that her boss, hotel manager Herry Patel, had told her she was "stupid and dumb" for talking to the Post. She believes her original interview with Harlan is the reason she was fired from her job.
"As of now, I’m looking for any kind of job at all," Tippen told the Post. She added that she and her family are living off a tax refund check, but funds are growing increasingly tight for the family.
For his part, Harlan writes that Patel introduced him to Tippen himself, but Patel later "threatened to sue if an article was published."
Move over, IPAs: The ancient Egyptians were enjoying beer thousands of years ago.
Archaeologists have discovered fragments of ceramic basins that ancient Egyptians used to make beer, the Israeli Antiquities Authority announced. The excavation team also found 17 pits where the Egyptians stored produce in the Early Bronze Age, between 3,500 and 3,000 B.C.E.
— pourmecoffee (@pourmecoffee) March 30, 2015
The finds are significant for more than beer culture, too: Diego Barkan, who led the dig, told AFP that the find is the first evidence of an "Egyptian occupation" in ancient Tel Aviv.
The ancient Egyptians created the beer by leaving partially-baked water and barley in the sun to ferment. The antiquities authority noted that beer was "the Egyptian national drink" and was consumed by everyone, no matter what age or social status.
According to the Pentagon, it would be cheaper in the long run to replace the aircraft that carries the President of the United States, and the goal is to have three new Boeing 747s to use as Air Force One by 2023.
Air Force Col. Amy McCain, whom CBS News reports is in charge of ordering the new fleet of planes, said that the current airplane used to transport the commander-in-chief was fielded in 1991, and is the only plane of its type (747-200) flying in the U.S.
Congress initially requested $102 million for the project, a number CBS reports will grow to more than $3 billion over the next five years, not including the final three years of the project.